Tag: COVID-19

400 million people in India’s risk falling into poverty in the informal economy during the COVID-19 crisis: ILO report

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Photo: ILO

“81 percent in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures.”

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 8 April 2020: The Coronavirus crisis is affecting tens of millions of informal workers in the unorganized sector. Latest ILO figures for India, Nigeria, and Brazil reveal unprecedented numbers affected deeply towards poverty as a consequence of the lockdowns and other steps.

“Current lockdown measures in India, which are at the high end of the University of Oxford’s
COVID-19 Government Response Stringency Index, have impacted these workers significantly, forcing many of them to return to rural areas, says the ILO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work Updated estimates and analysis released on 7 April 2020. (ilo.org)

At the global level, the report press release says, “The COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7 percent of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 – equivalent to 195 million full-time workers.

Large reductions are foreseen in the Arab States (8.1 percent, equivalent to 5 million full-time workers), Europe (7.8 percent, or 12 million full-time workers) and Asia and the Pacific (7.2 percent, 125 million full-time workers).

Huge losses are expected across different income groups but especially in upper-middle-income countries (7.0 percent, 100 million full-time workers). This far exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis.”

The rather disturbing report reveals more than four out of five people (81 percent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures.

“Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse.”

Worldwide, two billion people work in the informal sector (mostly in emerging and developing economies) and are particularly at risk.

Large-scale, integrated, policy measures are needed, focusing on four pillars: supporting enterprises, employment, and incomes; stimulating the economy and jobs; protecting workers in the workplace; and, using social dialogue between government, workers, and employers to find solutions, the study says.

Sangeet Sandhya zooms into the digital age

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By Saurabh Mishra

MELBOURNE, 7 APRIL 2020: As the world including Australia grappled with the corona virus crisis amidst lockdowns and strict social distancing restrictions, the Melbourne Indian community beat the otherwise gloomy atmosphere with songs and music. The Music Evening called the ‘Sangeet Sandhya’ innovated and emerged in its new form laced with technology. People participated or just enjoyed from the comfort of their homes the physical event digitally for the first time with Zoom, the video conferencing software from the Zoom Video Communications, Inc., US.

Faced with the new world of social distancing, the organisers of Sangeet & Swar Sandhya – Sharda Kala Kendra, headed by Mr. Rashid Sultan, felt that rather than take the easy route of cancelling the Sandhyas for the foreseeable future, they should instead, persist, adapt and re-invent. As one of the team eloquently put it, “The patrons of Sangeet Sandhya are no doubt already worried for their health and financial future. We should not add to their woes by taking away this beloved institution too”.

And so it was, that the very first Digital Sangeet Sandhya was held on Saturday 4th April using the Zoom video conferencing facility. About 150 people joined in from their homes to hear over 40 singers perform. Some of the singers performed with musical instruments they had at home (Harmonium, Tabla, Guitar, Keyboard), and others managed to plug in Karaoke tracks. The technology held up very well all night, and the overall experience was magical.

Some highlights included Namrata Trivedi’s soulful and masterful presentation of Thhumri, Hori and Chaiti, and Saurabh Mishra’s use of the Zoom screen-share feature to have the lyrics and meaning of the Ghazal that he presented showing as sub-titles as he sang. What’s more, Radheyshyam Gupta and Ratan Mulchandani also joined from Gurgaon, India and Newcastle, NSW respectively, as did an old Sangeet Sandhya alumnus – Hema Raina from New Jersey, USA.

Sangeet Sandhya is an icon for the Melbourne Indian community. It is a beloved open-mic community music event that was started by Shri Radheyshyam Gupta OAM, Mr.Ratan Mulchandani and Mr. Niranjan Chaudhary in 1997.

For the 23 years since then, it has been held unabated on the first Saturday of every second month, and anyone that turns up and wants to sing or play an instrument is warmly invited to do so.

By popular demand, a Karaoke format called Swar Sandhya was spun off some 10 years ago. Many a talented amateur musician has been “discovered” thanks to these Sandhyas, especially amongst new arrivals into Melbourne. But more than anything else, the Sandhyas have become a bona fide hub around which a vibrant community of music-lovers has been built up.

The team of volunteer organisers, worked very hard in the build-up to the Sandhya, generously helping people figure out how to connect, and indeed how best to perform with the technology. They were also kept busy throughout the evening, troubleshooting, producing the event, and managing the very lively online chat that was also running side-by-side.

Who can get tested for coronavirus?

By Hassan Vally*

To control the spread of COVID-19 we need to identify as many people with the virus as possible. If we know who has it, we can isolate them so they can’t infect others and quarantine their close contacts in case they’ve already been infected.

But some experts are concerned we’re not testing enough. Because of restrictions on who can be tested, they argue, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, the virus could be spreading much more than we think.

The federal government recently expanded its testing guidelines and now allows states and territories to set their own rules for testing. But before we get to what they say, let’s look at the symptoms.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Colds, influenza and COVID-19 are all respiratory illnesses and share many of the same symptoms.

For COVID-19, the most common symptoms are fever and a dry cough. Other symptoms might include fatigue, the production of phlegm, shortness of breath, a sore throat and a headache.

But some people experience no, or mild, symptoms.

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What is Australia’s testing criteria?
Across Australia, if you develop a respiratory illness, with or without a fever, you can be tested for coronavirus if you:

have returned from overseas in the past 14 days or spent time on a cruise ship

have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days

have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause.

Read more: Coronavirus: how long does it take to get sick? How infectious is it? Will you always have a fever? COVID-19 basics explained

If you have a fever or a respiratory illness, you can be tested (and in some cases, must be tested), if you:

work in health care, aged care or other residential care sectors

have spent time in a location with elevated levels of community transmission

have spent time at a “high-risk” location where there are two or more linked cases of COVID-19. This could be an aged care facility, a remote Aboriginal community, a correctional facility, a boarding school, or a military base with live-in accommodation.

Who else can get tested?
Australians in all states and territories can get tested if they meet the criteria above, but some states have expanded their criteria.

In Western Australia, if you have fever of 38℃ and over and have signs of a respiratory infection, you may be tested.

In New South Wales, GPs have discretion to test anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19. People who identify as Aboriginal in rural and remote communities may also be tested, as can people who live in communities with local transmission.

South Australia has had a cluster of cases among airport baggage handlers. Therefore, anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 and has been at the airport in the past 14 days, including the carpark or terminal, should also present.

Queensland will offer testing for people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and live in a Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities, as Indigenous Australians are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Read more: Coronavirus will devastate Aboriginal communities if we don’t act now

Victoria has introduced random testing at screening centres, testing every fifth person who presents. This should provide a snapshot of the spread of the virus among a broader section of the community.

The ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania are following the national guidelines and haven’t included any other groups or situations in which someone can be tested.

So what if you think you have COVID-19?
If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your your GP and advise them of your symptoms and other relevant details, such as travel or contact with a known case.

If you don’t have a usual GP or want to discuss your concerns, call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. You will be given information on where the closest COVID-19 testing clinic is and detailed advice on whether you should be tested.

If you’re asked to come to a COVID-19 clinic, you’ll need to take precautions. These include driving yourself if possible, wearing a mask if you have one, staying at least 1.5 metres from other people and coughing or sneezing into your elbow.

* Associate Professor, La Trobe University, Melbourne

Source- The Conversation, 2 April 2020 (Under Creative Commons Licence)

Brazil’s president attacks media instead of combatting COVID-19

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, March 31, 2020:

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s shockingly irresponsible and inflammatory verbal attacks on the media as he continues to deny the importance of the coronavirus epidemic, although it has affected Brazil more than any other country in Latin America.

After accusing the media of creating “hysteria” and causing panic ever since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Bolsonaro said on 22 March: “The population will realize soon enough that it has been deceived by the media.”

He again minimized the dangers of coronavirus on a national TV channel two days later, referring to it as a “little flu,” criticizing local officials who are calling for a lockdown, and accusing the media of creating artificial chaos.“Much of the media (…) are spreading a feeling of fear by exploiting the large number of victims in Italy, a country with many elderly people and a climate completely different from ours” he said, calling this “a perfect scenario created by the media so that hysteria takes over our country.”

On 26 March, he humiliated the group of journalists waiting for him outside the Alvorada Palace, the president’s official residence in Brasilia. “Look, people of Brazil,” he said, pointing at the journalists. “These people say I’m wrong and that you should stay at home.” Turning towards the journalists, he added “What are you doing here? Aren’t you afraid of the coronavirus? Go home!”

“This radicalization and intensification of the attacks against the media are extremely disturbing”, said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “President Bolsonaro is again targeting the messengers instead of the real enemy and is become more and more irresponsible by the day. During this period of the pandemic, the Brazilian government has more important things to do than persecute the media, whose news reporting is now more essential than ever.”

Although Bolsonaro appears more and more isolated, his radical discourse is being repeated and intensified by members of his family and some of the members of his government, including health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who described the media on 28 March as “sordid” and “toxic” and urged Brazilians to “turn off their TV sets off for a while.”

In an unprecedented move, two tweets in which Bolsonaro again questioned the point of a complete lockdown were deleted by Twitter from his official account on 29 March on the grounds that they violated the social media platform’s rules.

The president had posted videos on his account that showed him walking through the streets of Brasilia and mingling with the public – behavior that completely contradicts his own government’s recommendations and those of the World Health Organization.

Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram followed suit on 30 March, deleting videos posted by Bolsonaro.

The social media platforms are also reportedly concerned about what those close to the president are posting. According to the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, Twitter blocked the accounts of Sen. Flavio Bolsonaro (one of the president’s sons)and environment minister Ricardo Salles for 12 hours as a warning on the grounds that they had posted fake news and opinions liable to aggravate the pandemic.
Brazil is ranked 105th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

Source: Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Not all of about 15 lakh passengers who landed in India between Jan 18-March 23 screened

By SAT News Desk

March 27, 2020: The COVID-19 crisis has taken a dramatic turn in India with the revelation that lakhs of passengers who flew into India were not screened at the airports. Plus, the alleged leaked data of passengers on a mobile phone App is raising eyebrows.

A ‘The Hindu’ report (Friday 27,2020) summarised in its ‘The Evening Wrap’ received here (2.58 am Saturday 28 March 2020) says “The monitoring and surveillance of international travelers entering India is shaping up into a big issue. Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has said that between January 18, when screening of arrivals began, and March 23, when all international flights were suspended, about 15 lakh passengers landed in India. But not all of them were screened on arrival, resulting in a surveillance gap that could undermine efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, he said.”

The Evening Wrap says:

In a letter issued to the chief secretaries of all states and union territories, he has asked them to step up their surveillance of these individuals, “given that many amongst the persons who have tested positive for Covid-19 so far in India have a history of international travel.”

Meanwhile, we have some initial reporting on some privacy issues regarding such surveillance: “The government’s efforts to monitor people under advised quarantine for the Covid-19 virus ran into privacy issues on Friday, after the database of hundreds of passengers who returned from “Coronavirus-affected countries” was leaked online and shared by social media groups,” our National Editor Suhasini Haidar writes.

In addition, activists are questioning a newly launched pilot or beta version of a mobile phone application called “Corona Kavach”, which uses the data of confirmed coronavirus patients to alert subscribers when they are in close proximity.